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Ex-Virginia Tech students indicted for abduction, murder of 13-year-old girl

Ex-Virginia Tech students indicted for abduction, murder of 13-year-old girl
Former Virginia Tech students David Eisenhauer and Natalie Keepers were indicted Tuesday in the slaying of a seventh-grade girl. (Blacksburg Police Department via Associated Press)

Two former Virginia Tech students were indicted Tuesday in the slaying of a seventh-grade girl who was found dead last January days after authorities say she sneaked out of her window to rendezvous with the older teens, a county prosecutor said.

Montgomery County Commonwealth's Atty. Mary Pettitt said a grand jury returned indictments Tuesday against David Eisenhauer and Natalie Keepers, who authorities say plotted to kidnap and murder Nicole Lovell in January.

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Eisenhauer was indicted on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and hiding the body. Keepers was charged with being an accessory to kidnapping and murder and with helping hide the body.

Trial dates were set Tuesday in both cases for March. Pettitt says Eisenhauer and Keepers both face up to life in prison.

Attorneys for Keepers and Eisenhauer did not immediately respond to messages left at their offices and emails seeking comment Tuesday.

Prosecutors haven't discussed a possible motive for the killing.

Nicole Lovell flashes a peace sign in Blacksburg, Va., in this 2015 photo.
Nicole Lovell flashes a peace sign in Blacksburg, Va., in this 2015 photo. (Tammy Weeks via Associated Press)

But a friend of Eisenhauer told the Roanoke Times in May that Eisenhauer texted him about meeting a teenage girl at a party and later learning that she was underage. Bryce Dustin of Pulaski, whose phone was seized by police, said Eisenhauer feared the girl would "expose" him and asked if he knew where he could hide a body.

A neighbor told the Associated Press in February that Nicole told 8-year-old friends before she vanished from her mother's home that she planned to sneak out to meet her 18-year-old "boyfriend," who she said was named David.

Nicole's disappearance in January set off a massive, days-long search. The girl, who suffered from bullying at school and online over her weight and a tracheotomy scar, needed daily medication after surviving a liver transplant, lymphoma and a drug-resistant bacterial infection as a child.

At a preliminary hearing in May, Blacksburg, Va., police Det. Ryan Hite said Keepers told investigators she and Eisenhauer discussed several ways to kill Nicole: drugging her, making it look like suicide and knocking her unconscious and leaving her to die of exposure. They settled on what Keepers called "the official plan," Hite said: "Grab her from behind, cover her mouth and slit her throat."

Keepers told investigators she was not present for the actual killing. She said she participated because it made her feel like part of a secret club, calling Eisenhauer a "sociopath" and herself as a "sociopath in training," investigators said.

Blacksburg Det. D.L. Twigger testified in May that Eisenhauer said he arranged to pick Nicole up outside her apartment, but he thought she was much older. He said Nicole did not get in his car and started walking back toward her apartment, and he drove away.

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UPDATES:

12:55 p.m.: This article was updated with background information about the case.

This article was originally published at 12:30 p.m.

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